We talked to Jessica Athayde, member of the AITPM New South Wales Branch and Young Professional Committees
I’ve worked in the transport industry for 5 years, initially in Roads and Highways detailed design and now in Transport Planning in consulting. I’m enthusiastic about active transport, strategic transport planning and customer centred design in transport planning. My passion for active transport carries out in my day-to-day as I often find myself thinking about how to create better experience for customers through strategy and design.
What is your current role?
Transport Planner at Arup
What first attracted you to get involved in the transport industry?
I studied economics and civil engineering at uni and was fascinated in my third year at the similarities between economics and transport planning. This motivated me to do my thesis on a transport and economic perspective of employment decentralisation in Sydney under the guidance of my amazing supervisors Kasun Wijayaratna and Edward Robson! I also went on exchange to Copenhagen where I fell in love with cycling which quickly became my preferred way to commute.
Could you explain some key opportunities in your career and how they contributed to your development?
In 2019, my honours thesis was accepted for presentation at the AITPM National conference in Adelaide. This was an incredible opportunity at the start of my career as I pivoted into transport planning as I was fortunate to meet so many inspiring people in the industry. The presentations were diverse and got me very excited about working in planning.
What has been involvement with AITPM to date?
I sit on both the State branch committee and the Young Professionals Network committee. I’m currently involved in assisting Isabella Kim with the coordination of the Buddy Program, after participating in the program as an Experienced Buddy last year. I have been a member and avid attendee of AITPM events since my penultimate year at university in 2018.
What are your aspirations for your contribution to the AITPM?
I personally love in person networking events and have found so much value from my connections in the transport industry. I hope to support and contribute to events that encourage networking and knowledge sharing in the industry.
What has been a memorable moment in your career?
Taking part in a co-design collaborative in person workshop with our client to design safe bike storage after undertaking customer interviews was a really exciting moment where the impact on the end user felt tangible.
Is there a challenge/problem that you have experienced in your career and how did you overcome it?
Going through lockdowns has been a challenge in the early stages of my career. I have encouraged myself to embrace communication with my team and check in often and regularly through calls and meetings to avoid spiralling in situations where there was limited guidance.
What are your personal and/or professional career plans for the future?
I really hope to work overseas, in particular Amsterdam! I would love to learn through experience about best practice active transport strategies and share my learnings to help shape Sydney’s future transport.
Do you have any advice you would like to share to professionals in the transport/traffic industry?
Connecting with people who not only inspire you but also challenge you is the best way to improve as a transport planner.
What do you do in your spare time to unwind?
I love staying active, in particular I enjoy indoor (and occasionally outdoor) bouldering, running and cycling. I am participating in the Sydney to Wollongong cycle this year and would love to do a triathalon – just need to work on my swimming!